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as he is; and Geographus says again, “ Won't
Ast. Won't I what?
Ast. Bee kinde! how ?" Fortunately Geographus is here interrupted by Astronomia's mother Physica. This dialogue is a specimen of the whole piece : very flat, and very gross. Yet the piece is still curious,—not only for its absurdity, but for that sort of ingenuity, which so whimsically contrived to bring together the different arts; this pedantic writer, however, owes more to the subject, than the subject derived from him; without wit or humour, he has at times an extravagance of invention. As for instance,-Geographus, and his man Phantastes, describe to Poeta the lying wonders they pretend to have witnessed; and this is one:
« Phan. Sir, we met with a traveller that could speak six languages at the same instant.
Poeta. How? at the same instant, that's impossible !
“ Phan. Nay, sir, the actuality of the performance puts it beyond all contradiction. With his tongue he'd so vowel you out as smooth Italian as any man breathing; with his eye he would sparkle forth the proud Spanish ; with his nose blow out most robustious Dutch; the creaking of his high-heeled shoe would articulate exact Polonian; the knocking of his shin-bone feminine French; and his belly would grumble most pure and scholar-like Hungary."
This, though extravagant without fancy, is not the worst part of the absurd humour which runs through this pedantic comedy.
The classical reader may perhaps be amused by the following strange conceits. Poeta, who was in love with Historia, capriciously falls in love with Astronomia, and thus compares his mistress :
Her brow is like a brave heroic line
The piece concludes with a speech by Polites, who settles all the disputes, and loves, of the Arts. Poeta promises for the future to attach himself to Historia. Rhetorica, though she loves Logicus, yet as they do not mutually agree, she is united to Grammaticus. Polites counsels Phlegmatico, who is Logicus's man, to leave off smoking, and to learn better manners; and Choler, Grammaticus's man, to bridle himself;--that Ethicus and (Economa would vouchsafe to give good advice to Poeta and Historia ;-and Physica to her children Geographus and Astronomia : for Grammaticus and Rhetoric, he says, their tongues will always agree and will not fall out; and for Geometres and Arithmetica they will be very regular. Melancholico, who is Poeta's man, is left quite alone, and agrees to be married to Musica; and at length Phantastes, by the entreaty of Poeta, becomes the servant of Melancholico and Musica. Physiognomus and Cheiromantes, who are in the character of gypsies and fortune-tellers, are finally exiled from the island of Fortunata, where lies the whole scene of the action in the residence of the married arts.
The pedant-comic-writer has even attended to the dresses of his characters, which are minutely given. Thus Melancholico wears a black suit, a black hat, a black cloak, and black worked band, black gloves, and black shoes. : Sanguis, the servant of Medicus, is in a red suit; on the breast is a man with his nose bleeding; on the back, one letting blood in his arm; with a red hat and band, red stockings, and red pumps.
It is recorded of this play, that the Oxford scholars, resolving to give James I. a relish of their genius, requested leave to act this notable piece. Honest Anthony Wood tells us, that it being too grave for the king, and too scholastic for the auditory, or, as some have said, the actors had taken too much wine, his majesty offered several times, after two acts, to withdraw. He was prevailed to sit it out, in mere charity to the Oxford scholars. The following humorous epigram was produced on the occasion:
At Christ church marriage done before the king,
A CONTRIVANCE IN DRAMATIC DIALOGUE.
Crown, in his “ City Politiques,” 1688, a comedy written to satirise the Whigs of those days, was accused of having copied his character too
closely after life, and his enemies turned his comedy into a libel. He has defended himself in his preface from this imputation. It was particularly laid to his charge that in the characters of Bartoline, an old corrupt lawyer and his wife, Lucinda, a wanton country girl, he intended to ridicule a certain serjeant Mand his young wife. It was even said that the comedian mimicked the odd speech of the aforesaid serjeant, who, having lost all his teeth, uttered his words in a very peculiar manner. On this, Crown tells us in his defence, that the comedian must not be blamed for this peculiarity, as it was an invention of the author himself, who had taught it to the player. He seems to have considered it as no ordinary invention, and was so pleased with it, that he has most painfully printed the speeches of the lawyer in this singular gibberish; and his reasons, as well as his discovery, appear very remarkable.
He says, that“ Not any one old man more than another is mimiqued, by Mr. Lee's way of speaking, which all comedians can witness, was my own invention, and Mr. Lee was taught it by me. To prove this farther, I have printed Bartoline's part, in that manner of spelling, by which I taught it Mr. Lee. They who have no teeth cannot pronounce many letters plain, but perpetually lisp, and break their words; and some words they can.